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Reproduction. 2009 Jun;137(6):913-22. doi: 10.1530/REP-08-0471. Epub 2009 Mar 11.

Contraceptive potential of porcine and feline zona pellucida A, B and C subunits in domestic cats.

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Faculty of Health Sciences, School of Veterinary and Biomedical Sciences, Murdoch University, Western Australia, Australia.


Feral cat populations are a major problem in many urban regions throughout the world, threatening biodiversity. Immunocontraception is considered as an alternative and a more humane means to control overpopulation of pest animals than current methods including trapping, poisoning and shooting. In this study, we evaluate porcine zona pellucida (ZP) polypeptide (55 kDa) and feline ZP A, B and C subunits expressed by plasmid vectors as candidate vaccines against fertility in the female domestic cat. Cats were injected subcutaneously with three doses of the ZP vaccines. Vaccinated cats were compared with naïve cats for ZP-antibody response, ovarian histology and fertility after mating. Vaccination with native porcine ZP 55 kDa polypeptide induced anti-porcine ZP antibodies detected by ELISA. However, these antibodies did not cross-react with feline ZP as assessed by immunohistochemistry and no effect on fertility in vivo was observed after mating. However, vaccination of cats with feline ZPA or feline ZPB+C DNA vectors elicited circulating antibodies specific for feline ZP as assessed by ELISA, with reactivity to native feline ZP in ovarian follicles in situ. Vaccination with feline ZPA and ZPB+C DNA did not elicit changes in ovarian histology. Although sample sizes were small, conception rates in mated females were 25 and 20% in the ZPA and ZPB+C vaccinated groups respectively, compared with 83% in the control group. We conclude that feline ZPA and ZPB+C subunits are potential candidate antigens for immunocontraceptive vaccines in the domestic cat.

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